Four Keys to Community Development

I have worked with hundreds of communities working to get results in a complex environment among continually changing circumstances. Here are four keys I have seen lead to successful outcomes:

1. There is a convergence among leadership. In most communities there are several different types of leaders simultaneously. These include those who ensure the survival of basic needs, political operatives, thought leaders, organizers, bridges to other important groups, and influencers. When the various leaders begin to converge on an agenda, it creates an internal alignment that organizes activity, overcomes obstacles, and seizes opportunity.

2. Tradition is balanced with innovation. Every community has a history. Often the members personal stories are grounded in this common experience. At the same time current circumstances tug and pull as new needs surface. Communities that both hold on to their heritage and address their changing world are best positioned to make real progress.

3. Strong communities have a semi-permeable membrane, like a living cell. These boundaries let in helpful agents while keeping destructive forces at bay. This makes it easy for creative innovation to occur inside the group, but also sets constructive criteria in place to keep too much disruption from taking place. As a result the group’s integrity is kept in tact so it can successfully address a world in flux.

4. Healthy communities find ways to go forward that are good for their individual members. They have a knack for choosing their path to make the best of things for everyone involved. When something must be compromised it is done carefully and with great consideration for the health of the members.

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